Analysis of complete genome sequence of Neorickettsia risticii: causative agent of Potomac horse fever

Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Oct;37(18):6076-91. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp642. Epub 2009 Aug 6.


Neorickettsia risticii is an obligate intracellular bacterium of the trematodes and mammals. Horses develop Potomac horse fever (PHF) when they ingest aquatic insects containing encysted N. risticii-infected trematodes. The complete genome sequence of N. risticii Illinois consists of a single circular chromosome of 879 977 bp and encodes 38 RNA species and 898 proteins. Although N. risticii has limited ability to synthesize amino acids and lacks many metabolic pathways, it is capable of making major vitamins, cofactors and nucleotides. Comparison with its closely related human pathogen N. sennetsu showed that 758 (88.2%) of protein-coding genes are conserved between N. risticii and N. sennetsu. Four-way comparison of genes among N. risticii and other Anaplasmataceae showed that most genes are either shared among Anaplasmataceae (525 orthologs that generally associated with housekeeping functions), or specific to each genome (>200 genes that are mostly hypothetical proteins). Genes potentially involved in the pathogenesis of N. risticii were identified, including those encoding putative outer membrane proteins, two-component systems and a type IV secretion system (T4SS). The bipolar localization of T4SS pilus protein VirB2 on the bacterial surface was demonstrated for the first time in obligate intracellular bacteria. These data provide insights toward genomic potential of N. risticii and intracellular parasitism, and facilitate our understanding of PHF pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaplasmataceae / genetics
  • Anaplasmataceae Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • DNA Repair
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neorickettsia risticii / genetics*
  • Neorickettsia risticii / metabolism
  • Neorickettsia risticii / pathogenicity
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/CP001431